Assemblymember Wallace Announces New Law to Expand Defibrillator Accessibility in Fitness Facilities

As Damar Hamlin’s near-fatal injury sheds light on necessity of AEDs in athletic facilities, a new law passed by Assemblymember Wallace expands requirements for lifesaving technology in gyms

Today, Assemblymember Monica Wallace (D-Lancaster) joined Assemblymember Michael Norris (R-Lockport) to announce the enactment of her legislation to expand access to lifesaving AED devices in gyms and fitness centers across New York State (A744, 2022). Beginning May 23, 2023, gyms and fitness clubs with 50 or more members will be required to have an AED device and an individual trained in its use on site. Previously, this requirement only applied to fitness clubs with 500 or more members, leaving many smaller clubs without lifesaving equipment to help an individual who experiences sudden cardiac arrest while exercising.

Additionally, Assemblymember Wallace announced that she is introducing legislation to double the current state tax credit available to businesses that purchase AED devices. Under current law, a business is eligible for a $500 state tax credit to assist with the purchase of an AED. Most AEDs cost about $1,000 to $2,500 and have a ten-year life. Wallace’s proposed legislation would increase that tax credit to $1,000.

“AED devices save lives,” said Assemblymember Wallace. “Treating someone with an AED dramatically increases their chance of survival. Damar Hamlin’s terrifying injury demonstrates the need for AEDs in athletic and fitness facilities, where the risk of a cardiac event is increased. Thankfully, Damar is with us today because trained medical staff with an AED were able to restore his heartbeat in a matter of minutes. We want everyone to have the same opportunity for survival,” said Assemblymember Wallace.

According to the American Heart Association, more than 350,000 people suffer cardiac arrests each year, often while exercising. A 2013 study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology attributed the presence of an AED device at an exercise facility as increasing the likelihood of survival.

“Cardiac arrest is an especially cruel medical emergency. Death occurs within minutes, and most who experience it outside a hospital will not survive. Fortunately, as we all witnessed when Damar Hamlin collapsed, immediate medical intervention dramatically increases the chances of survival,” said Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes. “CPR is an important step, but it is often not enough in cardiac arrest. Access to Automated External Defibrillators (AED) is the difference between life and death. I'm proud that the NYS Assembly expanded access to these life-saving devices at fitness centers.”

“My strong, healthy father collapsed without warning at his gym on April 30, 2017. Gymgoers rushed to his side and felt for a pulse that wasn’t there. They began CPR, but it didn’t work. My three-year-old’s favorite person in the world was dying. But the folks who came to his rescue ran for the gym’s AED and used it without hesitation, keeping him alive long enough for the paramedics to arrive,” said Jennifer Tuttle, daughter of an SCA survivor. “My family can never repay our debt to those who saved my dad. Still, we’ve been trying to pay it forward by working to ensure that fitness centers – where 16% of cardiac arrests occur – have these miracle machines. I cannot imagine a world without my dad, and I am thankful for the years that this little device gave my young daughter with her beloved Papa.”

"Over the past week, the Western New York community learned of the remarkable stories of heroism and recovery surrounding Buffalo Bills' safety Damar Hamlin's cardiac event during a game. It soon became clear that if it were not for the lifesaving equipment available to the personnel by his side, there may have been a much different outcome," said Assemblymember Karen McMahon (D-Amherst). "Automated external defibrillators (AEDs) are vital tools in treating emergency cardiac events, and improving access to them will ensure that more lives can be saved when seconds count."

“This bipartisan legislation will save lives throughout New York State. I know this firsthand because my former neighbor, Mr. Wayne Shutt, was saved at a local gym because there was a defibrillator on site and trained staff that were able to utilize this lifesaving device,” said Assemblymember Norris. “I was happy to work with Assemblymember Wallace and our colleagues in the New York State Legislature on this legislation to make this important initiative a reality.”

Patients treated with an AED device have a 93% survival rate, as compared to only 9% for those who were not. Further, having an AED onsite has been shown to cut treatment time in half, from 7.3 to 3.3 minutes.

“The data and anecdotal evidence couldn’t be more clear: the faster a person experiencing sudden cardiac arrest is treated with an AED, the more likely they are to survive,” said Assemblymember Wallace.

Assemblymember Wallace has been working for years to increase access to this lifesaving equipment. In 2019, she secured $10,000 for the Lancaster Police Department to equip every patrol vehicle with an AED, as police are often the first emergency responders on scene during medical emergencies.